Inslee eases COVID restrictions on restaurants, theaters

The Associated Press

SEATTLE — Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday didn’t move any counties forward or backward in his four-phase COVID-19 reopening plan, but he did say more activities would be allowed throughout the state.

At a news conference the Democratic governor said restaurants in second- or third-phase counties can now serve alcohol up to 11 p.m. and increase their table size to six in the second phase, and to eight in the third phase.

Also, for second-phase counties, movie theaters will be able to operate at 25 percent capacity, and in the third phase, at 50 percent capacity. Facial coverings and 6 feet of distance between households will be required.

Wedding receptions would also be able to have 50 guests in Phase 3 counties, up from the current 30. And the governor’s office will provide further guidance on relaxing rules for things like bicycle tours, biathlons, marathons and other competitions.

The governor’s phased reopening plan allows counties to request permission from state health officials to advance to more reopened stages according to public-health metrics around the virus.

Meanwhile, a COVID-19 outbreak in the University of Washington’s Greek community has increased to over 175 cases since last week.

University spokesman Victor Balta said on the school’s website as of Tuesday morning there were 177 confirmed COVID-19 cases in students among 14 fraternities and sororities.

University officials have urged students to isolate if they have tested positive or are experiencing symptoms. Students who had close contact with infected peers have been encouraged to get tested.

Seattle and King County Public Health Department’s Dr. Jeff Duchin said the outbreak has shown the difficulty of returning to campus during the pandemic.

It is unclear if anyone has been hospitalized or has experienced severe symptoms.

Health officials have urged people for months to take precautions against the coronavirus, including wearing masks and social distancing. Officials have also warned people to continue to be vigilant as cooler weather will likely mean more time indoors, which could further facilitate the spread of the virus.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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